On my frequent trips between Colorado and Missouri, I cross seven major rivers of the Great Plains. Less than a mile from our Littleton farm, I ford the South Platte, which has just dropped through the Front Range foothills and is beginning its journey toward western Nebraska where it will merge with the North Platte River. My eastward route along Interstate 70 will keep me in the South Platte watershed until I climb to the crest of the Palmer Divide, north of Limon, when I briefly drop into the watershed of the Arkansas but do not come near that river.
Curving to the east, the highway climbs back onto the High Plains and crosses the upper reaches of the Republican River just east of Flagler, Colorado; from there, the river flows NNE, crossing the northwest corner of Kansas and then winding through southern Nebraska before joining the Smoky Hill River at Junction City. Though I cross many small tributaries (mostly dry washes) throughout western Kansas, the Interstate does not ford another river until I reach Salina, where the Saline River flows southward to join the Smoky Hill. Farther east, I cross the Solomon River, another tributary of the Smoky Hill; both the Saline and the Solomon Rivers drain the northwestern quadrant of Kansas.
At Junction City, Interstate 70 fords the main channel of the Smoky Hill River, which rises in eastern Colorado and flows eastward through central latitudes of the Sunflower State. Just north of Lawrence, I cross the Kansas River, which carries the combined flow of the Republican and Smoky Hill Rivers; the highway crosses this river again at Kansas City, just before it enters the Missouri. Finally, a few miles west of Columbia, I ford the broad, scenic floodplain of the Missouri River, which rises in the Montana Rockies and has received the waters of all the streams theretofore crossed.